Downing St has revealed that it will investigate claims that a TV producer was ‘groped’ in No.10 by a Government official.
Daisy Goodwin, creator of the ITV drama series ‘Victoria’, said that the man touched her breast during a meeting to discuss a programme idea.
In an article for the Radio Times, Goodwin revealed that the incident took place under David Cameron’s premiership and that she dealt with it verbally humiliating the man involved.
Theresa May’s official spokesman announced on Tuesday that “we are looking into it” and Whitehall sources confirmed that Goodwin was being approached to see if she wanted to pursue the complaint.
No.10′s new, proactive stance is a significant change from its original position on Monday, when it said that it would only get involved if a complaint was made.
The PM’s official spokesman said: “Yes, of course it’s an issue we are concerned about. We have seen the reports. We are looking into it.”
Asked about any attempt to contact Goodwin, he said it was not “appropriate” to discuss details of the case.
But a Downing Street official confirmed the approach to her. “We are making efforts to contact the lady in this case. She may or may not wish to take this further,” they said.
“We are here and if she wants to speak to us we will listen and we will act appropriately. But she shouldn’t feel either like we are exerting undue pressure because everyone handles these things differently”
HuffPost UK understands that Goodwin’s visit would be included in a meticulously kept record of all visits to No.10 and she would be needed to crosscheck which individual had met her.
The incident took place in the so-called Thatcher Room on the first floor of Downing Street. Goodwin said she remembers a table carved from a single piece of wood in the room.
The table was specially created for the Northern Ireland G8 summit in 2013, suggesting the alleged sexual advance took place after then.
David Cameron’s spokesman has put out a statement saying that he was ‘alarmed’ by the Goodwin allegation.
“This is the first he has heard of this. He is alarmed, shocked and concerned and has made the Cabinet Office aware.”
The PM’s spokesman said: “I have seen the response from David Cameron’s office. We will ensure it is properly looked into.”
The claim is just the latest to hit Westminster, and follows allegations that a string of MPs and ministers have made unwanted sexual advances.
Cabinet Minister Damian Green and International Trade minister Mark Garnier are both facing inquiries into their conduct, while former Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon quit this month after admitting he had failed to live up to the high standards expected of ministers.
A new cross-party grouping set up to devise a new independent complaints system for Parliament was due to meet for the first time on Tuesday.
Goodwin, who made her name as a poet but has become a leading TV writer and producer, told the Radio Times how she was “summoned” to Downing Street to discuss her idea for a TV programme.
The official, “who was a few years younger than me”, showed her into a room dominated by a portrait of Margaret Thatcher.
He then surprised her by putting his feet on her chair and telling her sunglasses “made me look like a Bond Girl”, she said.
She tried to turn the conversation back onto her project, but “at the end of the meeting we both stood up and the official, to my astonishment, put his hand on my breast”.
“I looked at the hand and then in my best Lady Bracknell voice said, ‘Are you actually touching my breast?’ He dropped his hand and laughed nervously. I swept out in what can only be called high dudgeon. I wasn’t traumatised, I was cross.”
Goodwin added that by the next day the encounter had “become an anecdote, The Day I Was Groped In Number 10, and it hadn’t occurred to her to report the incident.
But she added: “Now, in the light of all the really shocking stories that have come out about abusive behaviour by men in power from Hollywood to Westminster, I wonder if my Keep Calm and Carry on philosophy, inherited from my parents, was correct? The answer is, I am not sure.